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[captioning made possible by nbc universal] >> this is the "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> the time for change has come. chris: american president, back during inauguration his enemies laid low and suddenly they're out in force. they don't just oppose barack obama. they deeply resent him. is this about politics and economics or a challenge to his very legitimacy? dealing with his chin, did the ethnic pride of the sotomayor nomination expose the president's own? did the president's favoring a professor gates over the police sergeant expose an attitude? is this what the birthers are
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attacking? finally, presidential pardons, 35 years ago today richard nixon resigned the office on which he had set his heart. he spent the next 20 years struggling back. has bill clinton left under a far lighter cloud already cemented his comeback? i'm chris matthews. welcome to this show. trish regan covers wall street for nbc and cnbc. richard stengel is the editor of "time" magazine. kathleen parker is a "washington post" columnist and john heilemann covers politics for new york magazine. first up, president obama struggling. had i numbers are right on the 50-yard right now but the resistance to him is concentrated in a few groups. take a look inside the latest nbc-"wall street journal" poll. overall, 40% say they disapprove of the job he's doing. but in this -- in the south, that's 48% who disapprove. with older men, it's 51%. and with white evangelicals it's way up. 75% against him. during august, the anti-obama
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rhetoric is heating up. opponents are hitting him over professor gates, the sotomayor nomination. and this birther stuff. those opponents tend to be southerners. the birthers are spreading the rumor that obama was born in a muslim area of kenya. here's a louisiana congressman who didn't want to tamp it down. >> it's being looked at. >> what do you personally believe? do you think there's a question here? >> i think there are questions. we have to see. chris: i think there's a question. here is former georgia senator zell miller getting extremely earthy. >> rahm emanuel should get some gorilla glue and put it in that chair behind the oval office and sit down here, mr. president. chris: there's a choice of words. rush almost baugh after the president said the cop who arrested professor gates acted stupidly. here's rush. >> i think he's genuinely revved up about race. you know me. i think he is genuinely angry in his heart and has been his whole life. chris: did the sotomayor nomination, the combination of you a those discussions about the -- the combination of all
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those discussions about the wise latina and the sergeant in cambridge acting stupidly, did he open the door to this sort of ethnic attack on him? the attack on his very legitimacy? >> well, i think the attack on the legitimacy is really the point. and there's a concerted effort to try to delegitimize barack obama. he's a communist. he's a socialist. he's hitler now. he's trying to impose euthanasia on old people. and he's a racist. right? and i think your point, chris, is spot on. in this sense. i think it's unintentional but it's true that what the people who are trying to delegitimize him are trying to do is open the door to this kind of conversation. they want to have a race-rated conversation. and between sotomayor, and the skip gates controversy, obama gave them a permission flip to say that he sbuchede the question first. -- he introduced the question first. and now they can go crazy and make these wild charges because they claim he put race on the table and they're now just following his lead. chris: ok. you're the editor of "time"
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magazine. edit this conversation. is this the kind of attack a white american president would have to endure? the kind of attack he's getting? >> probably not. but i'm going to blame it on technology. i don't mean to evade the issue. but the fact is the fringe has come to the front. because of youtube, because of the internet. things that we wouldn't have known about before. people acting up at rallies. these kind of strange, bizarre images of obama are coming to the front. we can all see it. it's this kind of modern highsenberg unberg -- highsenberg principle where observing the thing changes the way it's observed. i don't know what to do about it but i don't think it necessarily means it didn't exist before. >> i agree. i think that's a really important point. everything gets exaggerated. i do think, though, that it is worse than it would have been with anybody else. i do think it's getting worse. but every time somebody creates some funky little picture where they -- for example, put the bone through president obama's
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nose and that gets distributed all over the internet, millions see it and all these things then take on a life of their own and become bigger than they really are. and nonetheless, i think there's a real -- in this country. chris: down home, communication system. the local gas station in the south, when people sit around talking about this, what's -- >> -- chris: are they in that iconic setting talking about this guy in a rougher, more ethnic way than before? you're down there. >> i'm down there. i have to tell you it's important everybody understand the south is not exclusively racist. and there are lots of people who obama -- took the south as well. he's popular. and most of the -- certainly the circles that i travel. but there are in this iconic gas station that youen vision, there are certainly -- there is certainly an element of people who do not like barack obama because he is black. and there is still a certain
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percentage of people who still use the n word if they feel comfortable. and they think you're one of them. this exists. but i don't think it's exclusive to the south. that's a stereotype we enjoy. chris: trish, living up in new york, in that world you live in, very high level world up there, high buildings up there. i looked at the sum numbers that show there is absolutely nothing of this up there in terms was he abroad abroad, nobody believes that. >> he's still very popular up there. i think people, in some areas of the country, really the honeymoon has essentially worn off. and a lot of that comes back to the fundamentals of this economy. as they look around and they're dealing with the 9.4% unemployment rate. as they're out of work or maybe they're worried about losing their job. all of a sudden they're giving more substance, more credence to the momentum that's building online and these bloggers that are coming out of the woodwork. so there's some resentment there like with people wondering, well, why aren't things better yet? i want things to be better now. and they're blaming him. chris: let's get to what's happening right now with this health care bill, the economy.
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you mentioned the fact that the screaming meetings which are chaotic and all over the internet, are we going to have a worse health care bill, a worse economy or what because of this screaming fits that are going on in these meetings? >> it's -- this period, this month, where congress is going to go back home, it's the same thing that happened back in 1994. it's not going to be a good period for the clinton -- for the obama administration in terms of trying to move the ball forward. and we're now going to have not only screaming matches but a screaming match about the validity of the screamers not just about what they're saying but who do they represent and counterscreamers. chris: whether dick armey is behind them and that sort of thing. >> it creates more noise. barack obama has had a hard time fashioning a coherent positive message for health care throughout. >> remember, people's health care, they like it. basically. 80% of americans like their own health care. that's way more popular than barack obama. and the problem is now the economy and health care are butting up against each other. if i were the president, i would say my job, number one,
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is the economy, the economy, the economy. when you change message and you start to try to integrate melting care into this message, people get a little bit confused. and they haven't found the right language for it. chris: we were in a different recession period in the early 1990's. pennsylvania, being for health care was a way for saying you are solid with people with unemployment. >> that was presession and the fall of lehman brothers -- that was prerecession and the fall of lehman brothers. talking about the unsnoord -- chris: middle age people worried about their jobs and about portability, they won't have health care if they lose their job, that used to be a selling point for reform. >> right. chris: what happened? >> this isn't the argument they have been making. and it's actually the seam mistake that the clintons made. the obama administration has never made this argument about what's in it for the average person. chris: i don't understand why they're so slow on this. >> they've talked for months now about controlling costs. and that is not a winning argument when as we said, 80% of people have -- chris: are they right, trish?
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sell what -- sell to the people who have it. >> it's hard to sell because of the economy and a lot of this comes back to taxes. they're now talking about not only raising taxes on the very rich and some of the small businesses, but potentially this would affect middle class americans in terms of their taxes. that starts to hit home. chris: there isn't going to be a tax on the rich. the bottom line, we -- i've been studying this thing. 12 of our regulars looking ahead. opposition to obama for the rest of the obama years come more from republican office holders like the moderate republican governors or more from the fringe. what i like to call the iroquois, french, war butch, those doing the attack. nine say the iroquois, 3 say the elected officials. kathleen and job you say it's the wild people. the rush limbaughs and the birthers and nare the real people. >> the squeaky wheel gets the grease and the wild people, the iroquois have all the power and they're the ones who have the forum and the audience. chris: looking ahead, a
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four-year term or an eight-year presidency, will the attack be from the fringe or from the people like mitch mcconnell, leaders on capitol mill? >> i only look 3 1/2 years ahead because i don't know after 2012 but kathleen is right. chris: so rush limbaugh will continue to be the big -- >> the g.o.p. is is this th -- their base is what -- the appeal to that base is what this whole thing is about. we've been talking about in terms. race based stuff and birther stuff, it is an increasingly old men and southerners. that is what the republican party is. and that dictates their politics. chris: trish. >> it's a huge problem for them. they need to shift and not have that as their basis. really start to focus more on the economy. because that's going to still be an issue going forward. if they could really harness that. and they could make that their issue. that would resonate throughout the country. chris: let me ask you a question. a year from now if this economy is around double digit unemployment, around 9% or 10%, will this hatred level, that's not a bad word for it against obama persist? >> i think absolutely it will.
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chris: richard. >> i don't mean to be a pollyanna about it but he's beginning to own the economy. right? it's -- problems are coming down to roost for him and people are saying it's your fault. it's a natural progression. chris: kathleen. >> inang. out there is real. it is real. they're unemployed and if not worried about losing their jocks. they hear billions and trillions and squeaky wheels are making the point that we're headed toward a socialist nation and that's what they're buying into. so yes, it's going to get worse. >> the combination of those things. the bad economy that's particularly bad for a certain subset of voters. mixed in with a lot of racial and ethnic unease among those people. aboutness a huge transformation that barack obama represents. it's not just him being the first african-american president. it's an increasingly diverse majority-minority nation that a lot of those people feel this -- is passing them by and they're angry about it. chris: serious business. before we break, 35 years ago today, richard nixon became the first president to resign. three years later, he
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remembered the time in his famous interview, with david frost. >> i had a lot of difficult meetings those last days before i resigned. and the most difficult one, and the only one where i broke into tears frankly except for that very brief session with erlichman at camp david was the first time i cried since eisenhower died. i met with all of my key supporters just the half-hour before going on television. for 25 minutes, we all sat around, oval office, men i had come to congress with, democrats and republicans, about half and half. wonderful men. started to cry. pushed my chair back. then i blurted it out. and i said i'm sorry.
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i just hope i have enough -- i haven't let you down. well, when i said i just hope i haven't let you down, that said it all. i had. chris: so when we come back, now did richard nixon recover from that point? how did he re-establish himself? and what about president clinton's own new higher profile these days? also scoops and prediction frs the notebooks -- and predictions from the notebooks of these top reporters. >> the "the chris matthews show" is brought to you by the hartford.
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chris: welcome back. 35 years ago today richard nixon resigned and the 20 years he lived in retirement nixon plotted his way back to a certain respectability. it's an intriguing thing to remember.
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just seven years after he left, nixen was in a gallup poll's top 10 most admired men in the world. that year, jimmy carter invited him back to the white house for a chinese state visit. nixon also was invited by ronald reagan to the anwar sadat funeral in 1981. in 1984 he gave a big speech to newspaper editors. the reviews were almost fawning because he showed this command. >> we must give the soviet union a stake in peace. and being as direct as i can under the circumstances, and helpful, and i do not say this as criticism, i would like to see the reagan administration and the -- our friends in europe and asia use our economic power more effectively, more unitedly providing a stake in peace for the soviet union rather than simply family sizing as much as we do simply building the military which would discourage them and remove any incentive for waging war. chris: "newsweek" put nixon's comeback on its cover two years
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later. and when his library opened in 1990, all the living presidents were there. and bill clinton invited nixon to talk foreign policy in 1993. when "newsweek," your -- "newsweek" put them on the cover with that big comeback picture, he's back, was that good editorial judgment there? >> i think that's right. f. scott fitzgerald said there are no second acts in american lives. he was wrong. there are third and fourth acts. that was nixon's third and fourth act. we're actually quite tolerant as a people which is why the discussion about obama earlier will resolve itself. and remember, nixon was plotted this out. he was very strategic. he wrote 10 books in his retirement and he was attacking the people that -- for being tolerant, right? he was attacking reagan for making overtures to gorbachev and he was wrong about that but we forgave him anyway. chris: only a few presidents in our history are truly interesting. you want to know more about them even if you doesn't like them. he's one of them. is that why people kept listening and buying books?
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>> yes. i think that's part of it. nixon, though, he was president during the most sort of tumultuous period of our lives. speaking of you and me personally in this group. are you in in a group, too? so he was endlessly, fascinating. and he quit. he resigned. he did exit with dignity. and i think people did admire him for that. he decided however much acting was involved in his remorse, he did put the country first and say i'm leaving and -- chris: let's talk about a guy who left under a far lighter cloud. far lighter. let me make that clear. bill clinton with the monica mess was a far lighter cloud. he was impeached. let's put it that way. but his stunning appearance on our screens again this week with that delightful moment when that young american woman said he walked -- i walked into the room and there he was, pyongyang, and i knew i was going home. it was like bill clinton had become his own thanksgiving day float, you know? it was just one of those
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moments. what do you think of that? >> >> americans love love the comeback. with nixon. with president clinton, absolutely. that was a moment when i saw her say that, it actually brought tears to my eyes. it was that kind of -- that kind of moment. that said, he still got a lot to overcome in -- and definitely on the lighter side. it's going to be very hard to -- for him to get away from the late night talk show hosts. that's the reality we have to live with. chris: they said he couldn't wait to get over there because there were two women in prison. they wouldn't quit. >> john stewart's take on him, william jefferson airplane was hysterical. i'm sure you saw that. yeah. he's always going to be the late night joke. but i think it's done now with greater affection. chris: does this reawaken the notion that someday, in the distant future, the clintons will be back? politically? >> i think that the clintons are quite happy with the notion that she will never again run for president. but i think that there's still
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-- thinking that she might one day still run for president. and i think they have behaved -- they have behaved impeccably . and partly because they're honorable people who care about public service and their political interest is aligned with barack obama being successful. that's the best path for her, to line herself up for 2016 if she wants to run again. and it shows how brilliant obama's move here was. because bill clinton was always going to be a bigger problem than hillary clinton ever could have been. to get back in the senate. and he got two for the price of one. chris: and the economy stays stagnant he will have the clintons on his side and not on the other side. big question. 50 years from now, 2060, who will be seen as the more significant president, the bold print president, richard millhouse nixon or william jefferson clinton? who is the biggest in history? >> i think clinton. >> remember, clinton always used to lament that he didn't govern during a time of turmoil or war because those are the presidents that are remembered. nixon did govern during the
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cold war. and in fact, because of that, he probably will be remembered as more significant. >> i would have to say nixon as well. and not least because he opened up china for us. so that's huge. and that will be a much more important historic landmark than anything clinton accomplished, i think. chris: john. >> kathleen is right. nixon and both on the foreign policy and domestic, creation of the e.p.a., osha. chris: school in the south -- >> affirmative action. a huge domestic legacy. chris: so ironic. the last real liberal president. when we come back, scoops and predictions from the notebooks when we come back, scoops and predictions from the notebooks of >> if your home runs out of room before you run out of family,@ you might need a sunroom. if the only place in your home you can find peace and quiet and relax is the bathroom, you might need a sunroom. and if bringing the outdoors indoors at your house means a goldfish bowl and an ant farm, you might need a sunroom.
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chris: trish regan, tell me something i don't know. >> as a result of the lower unemployment rate that we saw this week, 9.4%, we're now seeing investors are betting on an interest rate hike from the federal reserve at the next meeting in january. which means the fed's trying to control inflation. chris: which means we're out of the recession. >> our white house correspondent reports that barack obama plays golf almost every weekend. no gimmes. no mulligans and he'll write down a 10 or 11 on his card. chris: i love it. he'll take 10 or 11 on a hole. >> 10 or 11 on a hole. >> republican governors meeting in aspen the last few days say that sarah palin is running as hards she can and they're all scared to death that she can win the nomination. chris: i love that story. that's good for us all that one. >> up in my home state in new york, governor david patterson,
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political fortunes continue to decline. i think people wondered a few months ago whether there would be a primary between him and andrew cuomo. now the conventional wisdom is that patterson will not run. and andrew cuomo will be the nominee unopposed. chris: when we come back, unemployment seems to be setting right now. will president obama get credit for going for the big stimulus bill? did it help? we'll be right back.
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chris: welcome back. the big question this week, the new unemployment numbers were better than expected. are people beginning to think that president obama might have it right? trish. >> well, the reality is the stimulus has still not caught up to the entire economy. they've only got about 20% of it that's made it. so -- chris: richard. >> he will get credit for it. and remember, we can't anticipate what would have happened if he had not done it. chris: kathleen. >> i think he will get credit for it. i'm not sure he deserves it. >> credit among elite opinion makers, conditions on the road are still horrible and i don't think he's going to get much from the actual voters. chris: thanks for a great roundtable. trish regan, richard stengel, kathleen parker and john heilemann. that's the show. thanks for watching. see you here next week.
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The Chris Matthews Show
NBC August 9, 2009 11:00am-11:30am EDT

News/Business. (2009) New. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Barack Obama 8, Clinton 6, Kathleen 5, Obama 4, New York 3, Richard Nixon 3, The Economy 3, Clintons 3, Trish Regan 3, Kathleen Parker 2, Bill Clinton 2, John Heilemann 2, Richard Stengel 2, Iroquois 2, Obama Administration 2, Matthews 2, Sotomayor 2, Asia 1, Us 1, Aspen 1
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